The novel coronavirus has hit Amazon.
Multiple outlets reported that workers in at least eight Amazon facilities across the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, which comes just a week after the online shipping titan announced a massive hiring spree to help meet online demands during the coronavirus pandemic.
NPR reported workers in two of Amazon’s warehouses in New York City – Staten Island and Queens – tested positive for the virus. Other positive cases have been reported at facilities in Moreno Valley, Calif., Jacksonville, Fla., Oklahoma City, Brownstown, Mich., Katy, Tex., Wallingford, Conn. and Shepherdsville, Ky.
Amazon confirmed to CNN that confirmed cases also appeared at facilities in Joliet, Ill. and Edison, NJ Wednesday.
As a result of the positive tests, Amazon’s been forced to close facilities. Bloomberg reported the returns center in Shepherdsville, KY. was shut down after three workers tested positive for COVID-19, and other employees refused to continue working due to the risk of getting infected. A few employees told the outlet that the Kentucky facility would be closed for 48 hours in order to clean it properly, but on Wednesday, staffers were told the facility would be shuttered indefinitely.
Hundreds of Amazon workers from around the world started an online petition calling for increased safety measures by the e-commerce giant in wake of increased production.
“While Amazon has made some limited coronavirus accommodations, it needs a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of all of its workers and the larger public, including giving workers paid leave and not simply extending our unpaid leave, as was announced recently,” the petition, posted on Medium, reads.
“Together, we are pressing Amazon to take the lead in ensuring a safe workplace and fair leave policies to protect our workplaces, families and the public. As the pandemic unfolds, the demand for home-delivery is increasing, leading to near peak-level volume across the network. As we continue to provide this valuable service to our communities, we must ensure that we are adequately protected.”
Amazon had called for an additional 100,000 full-time and part-time hires at its fulfillment centers to meet demands during the coronavirus pandemic.
While Amazon has ramped up delivery services for essential items, many items that normally would be covered under Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery won’t be delivered for several weeks, according to Amazon’s website. The company decided to prioritize essential items in the interim, which meant delaying deliveries on goods such as books, electronics, and other household appliances.
Amazon notified sellers last week that it would not be accepting new products to its warehouse except for “household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand items” through April 5, NBC News reported, citing a memo.
“We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result, some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” Amazon told one seller platform. “With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”